If you want to listen to a book about bad things intellectuals say, this is for you. If you want to listen to a book about the effect of intellectuals on society, this is not for you.
I picked this book up because my first reaction was "oh, they're not important," and the spine says he thinks they are. He then proceeds to critique intellectualism, rather than show its import.
It's not really about "how" intellectuals influence society, it's about the annoying things lefties say and why they're annoying and why they've been wrong. Fine. So what?
Nothing in this book says a thing about whether the bad influence of intellectuals is (1) abnormal, (2) solvable, (3) important, or (4) anything else. Nor does he show how his arguments are peculiar to intellectuals - for example, he points out that lots of intellectuals supported Hitler. This is true. How many? Were there more or fewer intellectuals among his supporters than non-intellectuals? That he critiques this intellectual lapse in others and then indulges in it undermines his credibility.
When he defines intellectuals, he's very consistent (people who trade in ideas as an occupation), but he does not enforce that consistency throughout the book. You hear the definition at the beginning and end, and it's never mentioned in the middle. He has some strange lacunae in his thought regarding intellectuals - For example, he never says that economists are intellectuals, yet sometimes he says that intellectuals need to study more economics, and other times he calles Keynes and Galbraith (lefty economists) intellectuals. Similarly, it's very unclear whether he considers judges intellectuals.
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